Eyewitnesses are reporting that there was a renewed protest in Alamata town, northern Ethiopia on Sunday, that turned violent when security forces opened fire.
The protesters are opposing the inclusion of Alamata town and woreda (district) into the Tigray administrative region when a language-based federal system was introduced in Ethiopia in 1995.
Residents and the local hospital have said at least 7 protesters have been shot dead by the Tigray region special police force known as Liyu Police.
The Raya ethnic group in Alamata, who used to live under Wolo Province, claim that their land has been forcibly taken over by the Tigray region.
The ill-conceived federal system in Ethiopia has been a source of growing ethnic clashes. Until now, the local and federal government have been able to suppress with brute force the opposition to the forcible inclusion of towns and districts into regional states without taking into consideration the will of the people. With the political reform that is taking place in Ethiopia, the people are exercising their right to express their demand through protest demonstrations. Shooting and killing those protesters is not a solution. It only aggravates the problem.
Under the farcical federal system in Ethiopia, nationalist Tigreans, Oromos, and Amharas all claim Alamata Woreda as their land.
A preferable solution is to create an all-inclusive commission that consults with representatives of various localities and draw a new administrative map of Ethiopia. In some localities, a referendum may be necessary. The ultimate solution is for all of Ethiopia to belong to every Ethiopian so that the Raya people in Alamata and other ethnic groups do not feel like they have to cling on to their small piece of land when they have a big country called Ethiopia.
Otherwise, the problem will continue to escalate and could ignite an all-out war between regional states themselves in a the-not-so-distant-future, which in turn may lead a military dictatorship in Ethiopia.
It takes time and courageous political leaders to dismantle the current federal system that was designed by anti-Ethiopia forces with the goal of systematically dismantling Ethiopia into small ethnic enclaves.